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A British citizen, Will Pike was paralysed during the 2008 Taj Hotel blasts in 2008. Suing the hotel group for compensation, he wanted the trial to take place in London rather than in India. Accepting his contention, the London court allowed the matter, specifically stating that the trial in India could take some ‘twenty years’. This is a befitting example of the pendency in Indian judicial system and how it needs to be urgently addressed.
The graphic below states the number of cases pending before the Courts in India. Currently, about 3.25 crore cases are pending in the Indian courts and Judges fear that this number might escalate to about 4 crore cases by the end of 2016. This problem gets escalated due to the crunch of Judges at all levels of Judiciary as seen in the graphic below.
Timely justice is an integral part of access of justice and this huge backlog of cases amounts to denial and derailment of justice. This article will look into the proposed reforms for addressing this systemic problem.
The 245th Law Commission Report on “Arrears and Backlogs: Creating Additional Judicial (W)omanpower has recommended the following measures
1. Calculating Adequate Judge Strength through a more scientific analysis of data – In this context, the Commission has negated a simplistic method like Judge-Population ratio (Number of judges required per million people) in favour of a Rate of Disposal Method.
In the Rate of Disposal Method, one looks at the current rate at which judges dispose of cases. Then, given that the institutions and disposal rate remain the same, the Courts would need how many more additional judges to keep pace with the new filings in Court so that the newly instituted cases do not add to the existing backlog.
2. Judges to be appointed on a Priority basis: India currently has 1/5th of the number of judges it needs and thus, the Judges need to be appointed on a priority basis.
3. Increasing the age of retirement for Subordinate Court Judges to 62 years.
4. Creation of Special Courts for traffic/police challan cases: They constitute about 37.4% of the existing pendency before the subordinate courts.
5. Provision for staff and infrastructure
6. Periodic Needs Assessment by High Courts: Monitoring the rate of institution and disposal of cases and revising the adequate strength of Judges since a High Court is equipped with all the information relating to the subordinate courts in the State. The Malimath Committee had recommended setting up of Vigilance Cells in each district by the High Court to monitor the performance of subordinate judicial officers.
7. Uniform data collection and data management methods : to bring in greater transparency.
8. Need for a system-wide reform: The Commission has recommended the following:
● Greater encouragement to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Lok Adalats <Can you tell us the difference among various types of ADRs, mediation, arbitration and conciliation? Answer in comments>
● Setting up non-mandatory time frames and performance benchmarks for resolution of different types of cases based on rational criteria.
9. Use of Technology : Has been recommended by the 230th Law Commission Report and the Malimath Committee Report to
(a) Club cases filed on similar points of law, which can be decided on the basis of a single judgment.
(b) Track old cases, which have become infructuous and dispose them off quickly
(c) Setting up E-Courts and ushering in E-filing. Has received a major boost under the e-Courts Integrated Mission Mode Project.
10. Creation of All-India Judicial Service: Provided for under Article 312 of the Indian Constitution. The idea has been mooted by various bodies including the First Judicial Pay Commission and accepted by the Supreme Court. Art 2012 proposal regarding creation of this service has not received responses from all States and this proposal continues to be hanging in the air <can you tell us the procedure of creation of new all India service? Answer in comments>.
Many steps are currently being taken by the Government and the Courts to address this problem.
However, in view of the burgeoning backlog and urgency of reducing backlog, the efforts need to be severely expedited.
P.S. This article is published with inputs from a CD user Joyousjojo (name changed on request).
P.P.S. If you want to write explainers for CD, mail us your explainer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Legal Services in India: access to justice for poor and vulnerable and part of a solution for judicial pendency- an issue for mains; Know about Legal Services Authority for prelims.
National Legal Services Authority of India (NALSA)
Note the important issues highlighted here by SC like human rights, weeding the deadwood, primacy of public service. Just go through the guidelines and remember important ones for mains.
Important for mains. A part of the issue on judicial pendency.
Accuse is acquitted:
Not the first time:
Lives of innocent people ruined:
It may not be a direct question, but it is important to know about this prevailing issue of (in)justice; especially when there have been questions raised on effectiveness of criminal justice system in India.
Law Minister’s direction:
Equality in court corridors:
The op-ed is important for understanding our judicial system. A direct question may not be asked but it can be a point on judicial reforms.
Be aware of constitutional provisions and the present position on the issue as put forward by SC judgments. Keep track of the issue as it develops. SC judgments are very important from mains point of view.
Important issue and needs to be followed as it develops. There are many judgments and articles here, if you did not understand them in the first reading then read the news again! Refer to the articles below to refresh your memory.
Article 129 – Supreme Court to be a court of record
The Supreme Court shall be a court of record and shall have all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of itself
Article 142(2) – Enforcement of decrees and orders of Supreme Court and unless as to discovery, etc
Subject to the provisions of any law made in this behalf by Parliament, the Supreme Court shall, as respects the whole of the territory of India, have all and every power to make any order for the purpose of securing the attendance of any person, the discovery or production of any documents, or the investigation or punishment of any contempt of itself
“Fundamental rights and human rights of people, however they may be placed, cannot be ignored only because of their adverse circumstances, says SC”